I understand that you don’t like the idea of meeting with a therapist but you should try to do it anyway. There are many things in life that we don’t like to do but they must be done. Many people, for instance, wouldn’t work if they did not have to but do it because they need the money. It’s the same, general idea. If you want to know if you have a mental health condition, then it’s going to require an evaluation with a mental health professional.
Relatedly, if you have an anxiety disorder, avoiding social situations could have the unintended effect of increasing your anxiety. Anxiety is the feeling of nervousness, typically about some event or situation. Typically, people with anxiety disorders feel nervous about situations or events that they should not feel nervous about.
The nature of anxiety is such that it increases in tense situations and quickly dissipates soon thereafter. Whenever people with anxiety disorders start to feel nervous, they often retreat, avoiding the situation entirely. People with anxiety tend to leave situations at the height of their anxiety instead of enduring it until it dissipates. The outcome is that the individual immediately feels less nervous and relieved by having avoided the situation. The reduction in anxiety from having fled an anxiety-producing situation reinforces the idea that they did the right thing. Very often, however, avoiding the situation was the wrong thing to do and it only intensifies their anxiety condition.
For instance, let’s consider an individual who has agoraphobia and never leaves their home. Their fear of something bad happening prevents them from leaving their home when in reality, the probability of something bad happening is exceedingly low. Their fear about leaving their home should match the probability of something bad happening. If the probability of something bad happening is very low, then their anxiety levels should also be very low. If there is a mismatch between the two, then they have misjudged the situation.
Generally speaking, going to visit a therapist should only produce a small amount of anxiety. Many people feel slightly anxious before meeting someone new. That is a reasonable level of anxiety and one that matches the situation.
If you’re willing, it would be wise to meet with a professional who specializes in autism spectrum and or anxiety disorders. They would be in the best position to know if you meet the criteria for either of those disorders. Online tests are good for giving you a sense of what could be wrong but they are not reliable diagnostic instruments. Undergoing an evaluation would be the best solution.
In addition, the evaluating professional will, if necessary, also likely recommend treatment. If you like the evaluating professional, they may also be able to provide treatment.
It may be challenging and difficult to visit a therapist, but identifying the problem is worth the effort and whatever anxiety it may produce. Be brave and I wish you luck with your efforts. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle